The coastline of the Burnett Mary region is internationally renowned for its marine turtle nesting sites. These sites support significant breeding populations of endangered loggerhead turtles and vulnerable green and flatback turtles. These iconic species experience a range of serious threats to their survival. The main threats are pollution and changes to habitats. Other threats include predation of eggs and hatchlings by foxes, feral pigs, dogs and goannas. The “Nest to Ocean” turtle protection program is an ongoing commitment by the Australian and Queensland Governments to protect marine turtle sites from feral predators.
BMRG’s Nest to Ocean project targets the region’s fox populations which are key predators of turtle nests. The use of conservation detection canines to locate fox dens is a highlight of the project. The dogs indicate which dens are active and these dens are subsequently fumigated by the project team. Most dens tend to be in sandy soils – foxes regard this soil type as “prime real estate” and foxes dispersing into the area from adjacent habitats will use these old dens in subsequent seasons. These dens are mapped to enable Gidarjil ranger teams to revisit the dens and implement control actions (fumigation and trapping) prior to future turtle nesting seasons.
The use of soft-jaw foot hold traps outside fumigated dens to intercept returning and subordinate foxes is another successful strategy employed by the project team.
The continued involvement of Traditional Owners and the Gidarjil Development Corporation’s ranger team in the project has enhanced the sense of community stewardship. Local communities, particularly school students, are always keen to interact with rangers and learn about their contribution to preserving one of our region’s greatest natural assets.